President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed by assassin Lee Harvey Oswald while riding in a motorcade through Dallas, Texas. Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president upon Kennedy’s death.
The United States, in concert with twenty-two Latin American countries, established the Alliance for Progress. The program provided more than $20 billion in aid from the US and international and private sources in exchange for Latin American commitment to democracy, economic reforms, and education and standard-of-living improvements.
In an invasion planned by the United States Central Intelligence Agency and approved by the Kennedy administration, US-backed Cuban anti-Castro forces landed at the Bay of Pigs but were overcome by Castro’s troops. More than 1100 men were captured in an embarrassing defeat. The prisoners were eventually ransomed back to the US in exchange for food and medicine.
The President’s Commission on the Status of Women issued its report about women’s status under the law and opportunities in education and the workplace. The Commission, which was organized by President John F. Kennedy and chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt until her death in 1962, reported widespread inequality and discrimination.
President Kennedy met Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev at a summit in Vienna. Khrushchev threatened to give East Germany control of access routes to Berlin, and Kennedy responded with a pledge to defend West Berlin.
President Kennedy learned of Soviet plans for missile installation in Cuba and announced a blockade on Cuba to prevent more missiles from entering the country. In the following days, Kennedy and Khrushchev exchanged messages under mutual threat of nuclear war. On October 28, Khrushchev agreed to halt missile work in Cuba, and Kennedy promised to withdraw missiles from Turkey. The agreement put an end to the crisis and averted an escalation to major nuclear conflict.
The Peace Corps was a product of the Cold War. A week before the 1960 presidential election, John F. Kennedy observed that the Soviet Union had “hundreds of men and women, scientists, physicists, teachers, engineers, doctors, and nurses . . . prepared to spend their lives abroad in the service of world communism.” The United States had no equivalent. Kennedy feared that the United States was in danger of losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the world’s peoples. He believed that a “peace corps” was the answer. “I am...